By TIPPINSIGHTS EDITORIAL BOARD, TIPP Insights
As Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky lands in Washington, and is celebrated as a hero, both at the White House and in the Capitol, expect to see resounding speeches by political leaders from both parties. A photo opportunity with the Ukrainian leader will probably be the hottest ticket in town.
Having already been named Time magazine’s ‘person of the year,’ Zelensky has a lot going for him that politicians crave. He has eschewed the pomp and splendor of the presidential palace in Kyiv, replacing his traditional suit with a battle green T-shirt that signifies Ukrainian resistance worldwide.
Since the Russian invasion on February 24, 10 months ago, Zelensky has not stepped out of his country. That he has chosen to visit the United States for his first overseas trip, when he actually is very keen to become part of Western Europe and NATO, is in and of itself a telling story.
And that story is that Ukraine has been able to fight this long, only because of intense support from America and her military-industrial complex, to the tune of over $70 billion. And, as we noted in a recent editorial, the U.S. will shell out upwards of $600 billion when reconstruction efforts begin.
Every political leader whose hands Zelensky shakes and whose applause he covets is eager to spend the American taxpayer’s money for a Utopian goal: to preserve the sovereign borders of a country when attacked by a foreign power, at all costs.
But, the costs have been extraordinarily high, even to Ukraine. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been wounded; tens of thousands killed. Russian attacks on the civilian infrastructure in Ukraine have made life unbearable as a brutal winter takes hold.
Nearly half the Ukrainian population has been displaced, and Europe has not faced a migration crisis of this scale since the Second World War.
Under Zelensky‘s constant needling, Europe has distanced itself from Russian energy, creating an unprecedented fuel shortage among the 27-member European Union nation states. This has forced countries to reopen coal and other dirty fossil fuel plants.
It has triggered inflation so high that many parts of Europe are in a recession. Every major currency in the region, from the Euro to the British Pound to the Turkish Lira, has fallen to levels not seen in 40 years.
Were it not for the intervention of Turkey and the United Nations, worldwide famine would’ve been the result. Some countries, like Sri Lanka, have practically declared bankruptcy.
The conventional and politically correct wisdom, of course, is to blame it all on President Putin. However, we differ, in that we believe that it does indeed take two hands to clap.
Before November last year, not a single shot had been fired across the border of Russia and Belarus with Ukraine. The situation in Crimea had been more or less the same since 2014. Russia had already been punished by the group of eight industrial nations when it was unceremoniously expelled from the grouping and the elite group went back to being the G7.
During the four years of the Trump administration, there was never any talk in the media about imminent Russian aggression over Ukraine. Of course, Zelensky featured prominently even then, but as the person on the other side of a phone call made by President Trump that ultimately ended in his first impeachment. The issue then was more Hunter Biden and Burisma, not Russian missiles and Iranian drones.
What changed was that Zelensky allowed himself to be coerced by the Biden administration to sign a security arrangement with the United States, which was deemed strategic in nature. President Putin vehemently opposed such an agreement just as President John F Kennedy had opposed a similar arrangement when Cuba, in 1962, had welcomed Soviet military resources and personnel in the United States’ backyard.
While it is ordinarily true that the United Nations charter allows member states to align with whichever country they choose, the case of Ukraine has always been different. No country which has adversarial relationships with the United States would want a neighbor to host American weapons and resources at its border.
So, just how much blame has to be assigned to Zelensky and the Biden administration, for needlessly triggering Putin to act? This is a question that will likely be never answered, because it is too controversial to even ask the question. It ranks in the same realm of probing into the origins of the coronavirus.
But in a democracy, where the American taxpayer is footing the bill for what could morph into world war three, it is a legitimate question.
Second, after the war started, what has President Zelensky done to reach a quick settlement, so that the costs don’t keep rising? Zelensky’s insistence that peace talks are impossible until President Putin is displaced from office, or until all acquired land, going back to Crimea, are returned to Ukraine, are impressive rhetorical positions that simply prolong the war, causing further misery.
Such hard-line positions are probably acceptable if a nation has independent resources with which to fight. But Ukraine is completely dependent upon western support. By constantly shaming nations to support Ukraine, more out of a feeling of guilt, Zelensky has outsourced his pain to over 40 countries, with no end in sight. This is hardly the brand of an international leader.
We firmly believe that President Putin has committed war crimes and must be punished for all of his transgressions. But for the sake of world peace, we cannot let one individual, President Putin, to create so much chaos.
If Zelensky is a true leader, he should pursue immediate talks to stop the war, even if it means he has to make some territorial concessions, which could be temporary. But the price of the concessions could be to demand that President Putin step down from office and face international justice, just like it happened with Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic. A future Russian government could always hand acquired territory back to Ukraine as the price of readmission back into the world of nations and the lifting of sanctions.
Such an outcome would merit a state visit to the White House and another joint address to Congress. More importantly, it would earn Zelensky, the Nobel peace prize, richly deserved, and the gratitude of the entire world.
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